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Attorney General warns against dangers of Facebook at community forum

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler held a community forum on internet safety March 20 at Winston Churchill High School. The meeting focused on educating parents about Facebook and ways to help their children use the social media site safely.

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Brooke Overwetter, a member of Facebook’s public policy team, presented the basic logistics of working the social media site. She encouraged parents and teens to check their privacy settings at least once a month to keep track of any changes to Facebook’s privacy policy.

“Safety is an ongoing conversation and a conversation that needs to happen at home,” Overwetter said. “As you’re connecting with more people, as you’re sharing more kinds of content and different information, you want to go back make sure your privacy settings still make sense.”

She also demonstrated tools available to Facebook users to protect privacy, such as reporting users. The presentation emphasized the prevention of cyberbullying, harassment and other threats for teenagers. Overwetter reiterated that although Facebook can provide strong safety tools, Facebook users need to know who they’re giving information to online.

“Make sure that the audience you chose is the audience you trust,” Overwetter said.

After the presentation concluded, the audience, which consisted mostly of local parents, asked questions.

“I thought it was really informative and that they should take these presentations to high schools and middle schools,” said Randi Sagudor, a Walter Johnson HS parent.

Gansler said he hopes that parents now understand that they need to work with their teenagers on managing their privacy settings in order to navigate Facebook safely.

“The fact of the matter is almost every child over 13-years-old is on Facebook; either they have their own page, or they have access to it,” Gansler said. “It’s a wonderful tool, but it has to be used safely.”

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2 thoughts on “Attorney General warns against dangers of Facebook at community forum”

  1. That’s why you shouldn’t let highly impressionable 13 year olds have FB accounts. They need to put the age limit back to at least 16 so that very young teenagers aren’t putting themselves in danger.

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